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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Explained: Jio Platforms’ joint-venture with SES to provide satellite broadband services

Jio has formed a joint-venture with Luxembourg-based SES to deliver satellite broadband services across India. What does the deal entail?

Written by Pranav Mukul , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 15, 2022 8:35:00 am
Jio and Luxembourg-based SES said that the joint venture will use multi-orbit space networks that is a combination of GEO (geostationary equatorial orbit) and MEO (medium earth orbit) satellite constellations. (Representational Photo)

Digital services company Jio Platforms has formed a joint-venture with Luxembourg-based satellite-linked content connectivity solutions provider SES to deliver satellite broadband services across India.

What does the deal entail?

In a press statement, the companies said that the joint venture will use multi-orbit space networks that is a combination of GEO (geostationary equatorial orbit) and MEO (medium earth orbit) satellite constellations capable of delivering multi-gigabit links and capacity to enterprises, mobile backhaul and retail customers across the length and breadth of India and neighbouring regions. The joint venture will be the vehicle for providing SES’s satellite data and connectivity services in India, except for certain international aeronautical and maritime customers who may be served by SES. It will have availability of up to 100 Gbps capacity from SES and will leverage Jio’s sales reach in India to unlock this market opportunity. As part of the investment plan, the joint venture will develop extensive gateway infrastructure in India to provide services within the country, the companies said.

Is Jio’s proposed satellite broadband service any different from what Starlink or OneWeb offer?

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Yes, SES primarily has satellites in the GEO and the MEO, while those of Elon Musk-led Starlink and Bharti Group’s OneWeb are in low earth orbit (LEO). While GEO satellites are positioned at an altitude of 36,000 km, MEO and LEO are lower at altitudes of 5,000-20,000km and 500-1,200 km, respectively. The altitude of the satellite is directly proportional to the area of earth that it covers. Therefore, the higher a satellite is positioned, the larger an area it covers.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of GEO, MEO and LEO?

GEO and LEO satellites are considered to be the two extremes in satellite communications. While GEO satellites provide a larger coverage and therefore only three satellites can cover the whole earth, hundreds of LEO satellites are needed to provide coverage to a larger area. LEO satellites are smaller and are cheaper to launch than GEOs or MEOs. But the recent incident of SpaceX’s satellites falling out of orbit as a result of the solar flare has put the spotlight on the riskiness of the technology and the threat from the space debris it creates. For MEO satellites, on the other hand, while a simple equatorial orbit covers 96 per cent of the global population, it shares some disadvantages of GEO satellites such as the need for a high inclined antenna for locations away from the equator.

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